All computers, including mobile phones, come with pre-installed programmes. These programmes are generally termed as bloatware. The thing is, mostly, you do not need them. And sometimes, these pre-installed programmes from the manufacturer can be a security risk to your computer. A typical example is the SupportAssist on Dell computers, which the company has warned that it should be removed or updated at once.
The Dell company says the SupportAssist app comes already installed on “most of all new Dell devices running Windows”. It is touted to be the computer industry’s “first automated proactive and predictive support technology”.
It’s a real problem
Why is Dell asking you to uninstall the SupportAssist right away? The Dell SupportAssist has administrator-level access to Windows. It is made to automatically install the updates it downloads to your computer.
The security researcher, Bill Demirkapi, was able to tweak the whole process to hijack those update requests. This means a hacker can use the same process to install malicious programmes which would help them gain full access to your computer
In a blog post, Demirkapi has written into detail his proof of concept. Though this is a serious breach, the researcher says it only works if the hacker is on the same local network as your computer.
And that, we look at public Wi-Fi networks at the workplace, transport terminals, and schools.
There are two things you can do. One, just uninstall the app. Two, update it to SupportAssist v 3.2.090 or later. To update it, go to Dell’s support page for the vulnerability and get the installer.
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